IF you can meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two impostors just the same, you’re bonkers.
Losing hurts, and it bloody well should.
If a prize is worth winning, not getting it should be a painful experience.
And that’s fair enough when it comes to competitive sport.
However, life is not fair competition.
It does not occur between players of equal opportunity, skill, and resources.
While the natural result of games between sides of equal status is likely a draw, most people have as much chance of rising to the top as Pembroke Boro has of winning the English Premier League. Not only do the Boro not have the resources, but they also don’t have the chance to compete in the same pyramid.
“Levelling-up” is Westminster’s big idea.
The UK Government says the policy will reduce the differences between regions and social groups in the UK.
It wants to do that without affecting the prosperity of well-off areas, such as the South-East of England.
Those aims are mutually exclusive.
In simple economic terms, levelling up cannot happen without a downside.
Increasing the economic opportunities for one area means another must miss out.
Badger Co wants to build a factory to manufacture and assemble an essential gizmo.
Badger Co must build the gizmo somewhere with good infrastructure.
There must be excellent broadband connectivity, a skilled workforce nearby, and excellent transport links by road, rail, and air.
Those requirements narrow the range of options for the factory’s location.
Reality dictates that Badger Co will build its factory in an area with those things.
That rules out anywhere outside the UK’s major conurbations.
Poor old Pembrokeshire won’t stand a chance. All the tax breaks in the world won’t bring Badger Co to the county.
A competition between anywhere in Wales and (for example) Manchester would have the same result as a match between Pembroke Boro and Real Madrid.
I would suggest you consider the question another way.
Do any of you believe that Jacob Rees-Mogg’s genius is such that he would be a member of the Cabinet if he came from The Mount Estate, went to Milford Central, and had a degree from the Polytechnic of Wales?
If some of you do, hold that thought. Badger has a bridge for sale.
“Levelling up” will no more turn areas like Pembrokeshire into economic powerhouses than Badger can walk on moonbeams.
Extending our metaphor, the Government’s policy levels up Pembroke Boro to the opportunities possessed by Clarbeston Road FC.
As an idea, levelling up is a good one.
The UK is the most economically unequal country in Western Europe.
The big difference between the UK and Western Europe is the gulf between those who own the most capital and have the highest incomes and their concentration in one corner of the UK.
Doing something to redress the balance is better than doing nothing.
Bridging the chasm between England’s South East and places like Pembrokeshire – or England’s North East – can’t happen without shifting economic activity.
Spreading growth more thinly means someone somewhere must lose out.
The places to lose out under the Government’s levelling-up plans will be areas that also need more resources and better infrastructure.
That must be the case because Westminster will not allow redistribution of resources and capital from South East England.
Badger recalls the famous saying about a shit sandwich. However, spread the ordure thinly enough over enough bread, and everyone still gets an unpleasant mouthful.
Yet the Government does not want the pearly whites of South East England’s true blues to get stained.
We must be clear.
You can’t rebalance the economy’s weighing scales by ignoring their existing imbalance.
It isn’t very ethical to say you can.
Boris Johnson’s Government would never lie.
Badger now goes off at a slight tangent to draw attention to an unusual combination of circumstances.
In 2015, the Conservative Manifesto said, “We will devolve to the Welsh Assembly control over its affairs – including the Assembly name, size and electoral system, Assembly elections and voting age.”
Simon Hart – then loyal to David Cameron – stood for election and supported the 2015 Manifesto.
The Wales Act 2017 put those promises into practice.
Simon Hart – by then loyal to Theresa May – supported the Wales Act and voted for it.
In 2022, Simon Hart – now loyal to Boris Johnson – wants to go back on the provisions of a policy he supported and an Act of Parliament for which he voted.
Mr Hart’s position is that the Welsh Government should not use the powers Mr Hart voted they should have because it’s politically convenient to strike a pose against “more politicians”.
At the same time, he doesn’t bat an eyelid at Mr Johnson’s abuse of the honours system to pack the House of Lords with prominent Conservatives with deep pockets and a ready chequebook.
That’s real loyalty, readers; it’s a loyalty you cannot buy.
Badger is uncertain whether Mr Hart’s loyalty is priceless, worthless, or a question of dates.
Despite warning about spending public money to make the Senedd’s proceedings more efficient through better scrutiny, Mr Hart supports spending billions of pounds to make a rat-ridden deathtrap, the Houses of Parliament, fit for use.
When Mr Johnson – and Badger can’t believe he’s using this word in connection with the PM – sensibly suggested the House of Lords could sit elsewhere during the works, the Lords’ response was outrage.
Taking the peers’ concerns at face value, everything outside the M25’s orbit is an uncivilised, howling void.
Like Tenby in November.
As a member of a Government that believes in levelling up, Mr Hart should demand the Houses of Parliament move permanently from London.
To show his Government’s commitment, Mr Johnson should move Parliament away from a crumbling, nineteenth-century, mock-Gothic monstrosity in an overcrowded city.
That would have the advantage of putting out the noses of the metropolitan elite and media that Mr Johnson and his chums in the – umm – metropolitan elite and media pretend to despise.
Commit to levelling up the UK by moving Parliament to one of the most deprived areas of England: Hartlepool, for example.
The reputation of that town’s inhabitants for hanging monkeys means the PM and his Cabinet might baulk at that choice.
But it’s more realistic than the fantasy of the current levelling-up policy.
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